HOUSTON, May 12, 2023 – Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy delivered the 2023 spring commencement address to graduates of the Conrad N. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership at the University of Houston today. In underscoring the growing importance of hospitality in the global economy, Duffy stressed to graduates the importance of thinking about the future of travel and hospitality in the same regard as the future of medicine, technology, aerospace and transportation infrastructure. To read the full transcript of Duffy’s address, click here.
“It is an honor to congratulate this hardworking group of graduates and to welcome them, our future leaders, into the travel and hospitality industry as they embark on the next important steps in their lives and careers,” said Duffy. “The impact of travel and tourism goes beyond cruises and hotels and theme parks. Our industry generates tens of billions of dollars of economic activity and innovation every year across technology, sustainable energy, food security and water conservation, and construction practices. It’s a big responsibility, but after talking with the students here in Houston today, my optimism for a bright future is as strong as ever.”
In the address, Duffy reminded graduates they are entering a noble profession – underscoring the different ways the travel and hospitality industry makes a difference in people’s lives. Duffy’s speech stressed the economic importance of the industry, highlighting its potential to positively affect communities big and small. Duffy also emphasized the industry’s role in bringing together friends and families and helping to create memories and experiences that last a lifetime.
“Remember, no matter what part of the industry you choose, your work contributes to what are often the most memorable moments in people’s lives which is why as an industry we must stay diligent and focused on educating policy makers on the importance of travel,” she told the graduates. “We have a responsibility to lead beyond our own business and to set an example for other sectors in how we must innovate, improve society, protect natural resources and create a workplace that is diverse and inclusive.”
Duffy also told graduates about her own journey to become the first woman president of Carnival Cruise Line, the flagship brand of the world’s largest travel leisure company Carnival Corporation. Before she led the cruise line’s 40,000 employees across its 25-ship fleet, she was the president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents the $120 billion global cruise industry. Prior to CLIA, she spent 10 years at Maritz Travel Company, the world’s largest corporate meeting, events and incentive travel company. Her career in the travel and tourism industry started four decades ago, when she began working as a travel agent in Philadelphia. Now, she is widely recognized as an industry leader and earlier this year, she was re-appointed by the Secretary of Commerce to the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. From 2020 to 2022, she served as the National Chair of the U.S. Travel Association.